Awake, my soul, and with the sun

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
thy daily stage of duty run;
shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise
to pay thy morning sacrifice.

This hymn is a selection of verses from Thomas Ken's "Morning Hymn" which was published in a revised form in the Appendix to A Manual of Prayers for the Use of the Scholars in Winchester College, and All Other Devout Christians (1709). In the preface to the manual, the young scholars were exhorted "to sing the Morning and Evening hymns in your chambers devoutly". The original fourteen verse version was first published in an earlier edition of A Manual... (1695), although it probably dates from as early as 1674. Modern hymnals use between five and eight of the original verses.

Thomas Ken (1637-1711) was orphaned as a young child, and brought up by Izaak Walton, the author of The Compleat Angler. He was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford, and ordained at the age of 26. In 1685 he was appointed Bishop of Bath and Wells, only to be sent to the Tower for refusing to subscribe to the Declaration of Indulgence of James II. Subsequently reinstated by William of Orange in 1688, he was deprived of his see in 1691 for refusing to take an oath of allegiance.

Tune - Morning Hymn

The hymn is generally sung to the tune Morning Hymn by François Hippolyte Barthélémon (1741-1808). This tune was specifically written for these words at the request of the chaplain of a female orphan asylum in London, and was first published in A Supplement to the Hymns and Psalms used at the Asylum or House of Refuge for Female Orphans, printed for William Gawler, organist to the Asylum (London, c.1785).

Despite the popularity of the tune, it has been criticised by Archibald Jacob in Songs of Praise Discussed (1933): "The tune attained popularity, probably because its undistinguished phrases, being musical commonplaces, were easy to catch and remember; but on the score of quality, it does not deserve its fame."

Nigel Day
© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 5th July 1997